College classes have begun for fall semester 2018. Since fall 2011 Coastal Georgia’s School of Business and Public Management has grown from about 400 students to nearly 900 this fall. That is a compound annual rate of growth of 12.28 percent. Growth stocks should be so consistent. In this light, I would like to give you a report card on the School of Business and Public Management (SBPM).

When I came in March 2011 to interview for the dean’s position in the school, two things — which I call today the Strategic Commitments — were obvious. The first was that the community was committed to the transformation of the college to a bachelor degree granting institution. I call this Strategic Commitment 1 and was not surprised by it. What was surprising was Strategic Commitment 2. The community expected the college to be committed to transforming the community.

These commitments are not independent of each other. Clearly there are overlapping areas. My focus for today is Strategic Commitment 1.

Two things drive the development of the degrees we offer in SBPM: they must serve the needs of the community and State, and they must be differentiated from degrees that students could get at other schools. Our degrees must be useful and special.

Our first two degrees were a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and a Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics (BSHI). An unusual feature of the BBA was that all of the classes were required. Students had no opportunity to study a unique area of business. This format did not easily address the needs of the market. With curriculum reform taken at the time, students can now choose a concentration for detailed study in accounting, economics, finance, leadership, marketing, management, and health care administration. As a result of the opportunity for enhanced study of an area of business, at present 68 students are choosing to study accounting and finance, two very difficult disciplines. Also, one of our young economists got a full-ride graduate scholarship to Washington University in St. Louis (one of 5 Wash-U awarded that year). This is amazing for an access institution starting its 10th year and are just two examples of student achievement. Students studying health informatics are now finding employment in major local, regional and national health systems. The BSHI, with its emphasis on computer science and data analytics is unmatched in the state.

Government agencies and nonprofits face increasing demands for their services while experiencing declining financial resources. These two opposing forces call for managers trained in business principles within the public sector world. This was the rational leading the development of the next degree — Bachelor of Science in Public Management. There is no other similar degree in the entire University System, especially with its concentration in nonprofit management and leadership. Again, our goal is to be appropriate, useful and unique.

The next degree developed over the past 10 years is the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. This is the fastest growing degree at the college and is only in its fourth year. Criminal justice students choose to study public policy, homeland security, cyber security or data analytics. Needless to say, this is a cutting edge undergraduate degree and, with our wonderful relationship with FLETC, unmatched in the Southeast if not the nation. Here our goal is simply to be the best undergraduate program in the United States.

We also teach leadership and management skills to technically trained individuals. This is only open to graduates of technical schools. One might be a heck of a welder, yet we train them to be able to lead a team of welders. Here we complement the workforce needs of the state and, again, find ourselves in a unique market position in the state.

The newest addition to our degree offerings is a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management (BSHTM). We have been teaching culinary arts for years (and remain accredited by the American Culinary Federation) and do really good work. Now, with the BSHTM, we have expanded our portfolio of offerings based on our area’s truly unique leadership in the hospitality industry. There is no other similar degree in the University System. Again we are appropriate, useful and unique.

There you have it. I work with a wonderful faculty and staff that are committed to our students and community.

What grade might you give us filling Strategic Commitment 1? I give us an “I” — an incomplete. We have done a lot but we are not yet done. There is much more to come. It’s been a heck of a ride but the finish line is not yet in sight. Thank you Golden Isles for all you have done for us.

Dr. Skip Mounts is Dean of the School of Business and Public Management at the College of Coastal Georgia and an affiliate of the Reg Murphy Center of Economic and Policy Studies.

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